House Republicans are planning a slew of investigations now that they've reclaimed the majority.
Supporters say GOP leaders need to be "deliberative" and "organized" about the promised probes.
Democrats say if history holds, Republicans will go overboard and alienate 2024 voters.
Being disciplined about all the investigations they're dying to spin up is the best thing House Republicans can do to set themselves up for success in the 118th Congress, former GOP Rep. Tom Davis advised current party leaders.
"Don't get too far ahead of yourselves. And don't rush to do this publicly. There's a lot of work that needs to be done in private before you even get out there," Davis, who served as chair and ranking member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform during his tenure on Capitol Hill, said of the "deliberative" and "organized" approach he'd like to see House Republicans take for the next two years.
In the run-up to the midterm elections, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and aspiring committee chairmen Reps. Jim Jordan of Ohio and James Comer of Kentucky promised MAGA fans they'd dig into President Joe Biden, his scandal-plagued son Hunter Biden, current Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Attorney General Merrick Garland, FBI director Chris Wray, and other perceived political enemies if they regained power.
Now that they're just weeks away from assuming control with a razor-thin majority, Davis said House Republicans must exercise some restraint "even though the base and some of the conservative media are going to be crying for a public scalping."
—Ronny Jackson (@RonnyJacksonTX) November 23, 2022
Ron Bonjean, a former GOP leadership aide and now a partner at political consulting firm Rokk Solutions, said striking the right balance would be mission-critical.
"It's appropriate to have oversight over the Biden administration's actions on issues like trillions of dollars in spending and our crisis at the border since the last two years went largely unchecked,' Bonjean told Insider. "However, having 30 hearings focused only on Hunter Biden's laptop would probably backfire with voters."
Democratic Rep. Gerry Connolly of Virginia, who is vying for the ranking member slot on the Oversight panel, said the temptation will probably prove too great, again, for those across the aisle.
"I believe they are risking immediate overreach," Connolly told Insider, pointing to GOP-led investigations into former President Bill Clinton, Obama-era attorney general Eric Holder, former first lady and 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, and other political rivals that ultimately fizzled out.
"They're gonna go back to their sordid playbook of manufactured conspiracies, debunked theories, and in some cases, outright fabricated narratives," Connolly said of the all-too familiar fight he's already gearing up for come January.
'Piece together something'
Jordan recently reaffirmed his plans to spend the next election cycle grilling federal law enforcement officials and the Biden family during an appearance on the Mike Huckabee show.
—Rep. Jim Jordan (@Jim_Jordan) November 22, 2022
"It's our constitutional duty," Jordan said.
The former governor of Arkansas who's now a talk show host urged Jordan to get cracking.
"I'm going to pop some popcorn. Get a good seat. And watch these hearings," Huckabee said of the payback programming he's been craving.
Former Rep. Davis said the agenda items GOP hardliners aren't going to let go of include investigating the origin of the global pandemic ("do a little more research on that instead of just having it glossed over," Davis advised) and the messy withdrawal from Afghanistan ("we really need to know how did things go so badly?").
—Rep Andy Biggs (@RepAndyBiggsAZ) November 22, 2022
And, of course, taking another swing at Hunter Biden.
"I think you throw Hunter Biden's laptop in there only because there was such a media denial when this thing came out," Davis said.
Making it all work, he added, requires doing due diligence.
"Do some depositions. Look at some documents," Davis said. "And piece together something."
Matt Mackowiak, a former Senate GOP staffer who is now a Texas-based political consultant, advised House Republicans to focus on what matters most to voters.
"If hearings go beyond responsible oversight by becoming a political circus, that will be a mistake," Mackowiak told Insider, adding that GOP leaders should seize on "improving the lives of average Americans."
"They can investigate while also passing reforms," Mackowiak said.
Rep. Connolly urged Republicans to tread carefully, vowing to "push back against any efforts that we believe are purely political and non-factual."
"There are real risks and pitfalls when elected officials act recklessly with the truth and abuse their public offices for squalid partisan payback," Connolly said, adding, "It doesn't play well with the American public."
Aides for McCarthy and Jordan did not immediately respond to requests for comment about any GOP calls to tread carefully next year.
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